I learned today that the ranting, anti-government church member has blocked me on Facebook. I had considered blocking him for the past few weeks, but decided against it because I consider blocking to be the equivalent of "excommunication", which I'm vehemently against. I only blocked one person on Facebook and it was purely by accident. I had meant to keep the person on my Facebook friend's list but blocking access to reading my wall for a temporary period of time. I did not understand the terminology used and did not realize that blocking someone on Facebook was worse than de-friending someone. When you block someone, they don't exist. You don't see their posts and they don't see yours. If you search for them by name, nothing appears. And its virtually impossible to refriend someone that you've blocked. Facebook sucks that way. Because of that experience in accidentally blocking someone I did not want to delete from my friends list, I have been unwilling to use that feature on even those who deserve it. I did not block that spiteful woman who stirred up trouble on the church's Facebook page with her accusations and claims of victimhood when people disagreed with her ultra-conservative, teabagging, fundamentalist brand of Republican Christianity.
Mr. Anti-government Ranter, on the other hand, has been relentless in the past few weeks. He keeps up with his illogical views, claiming to be logical. For example, he recently said that: America is an anarchist country (he bases this claim on the fact that the majority of Americans don't vote); voting is a form of violence (because you are imposing your candidates on those who voted for another candidate or didn't vote at all); and the federal government is a religion. He loves to twist definitions of common words and concepts to fit his anti-government worldview. This has alarmed me in the past, particularly when the news reported on the shooter of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords last year. The shooter was obsessed with language and redefining words to fit his worldview. To some, this tendency could be seen as a form of mental illness, or at least of someone who falls outside the norms of society. When I read some of the writings that were online of the shooter, I was shocked by how much they sounded like Mr. Anti-government's rants over the years. Since I know him personally, through various retreats sponsored by the church, he appears to be a non-violent guy. A nonconformist who lives according to his vision of life, no matter how extreme it might be. I don't actually believe that he would commit an act of violence, but his anti-government views are troubling.
Last year, when an FBI agent I know through a discussion group I participate in asked me to name the "sovereign citizen" that I had mentioned knowing, I refused because it seemed like an East German thing to do. I didn't believe that he would do anything harmful to others (to himself, yes). The FBI agent then wondered why I wasn't willing to give a name and tried to make me feel like an accomplice. He claims that all they'd do is monitor him, in case he does become radicalized. The FBI agent's job is to keep track of various anti-government, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups in the Pacific Northwest. This includes people who identify themselves as "sovereign citizens" (one thing they do is create their own identity cards to use in place of driver's licenses, passports, and other legal identifying documents) or "voluntaryist." He did call himself a "sovereign citizen" in the past (and created his own identity card to show police when they pull him over) and most recently referenced a Voluntaryist website in making his claim that America is an anarchist nation.
To me, knowing this anti-government ranter has been a fascinating case study in how mental illness possibly develops. There is no ability to reason with the person or come to some basic agreement on definitions. In his mind, he really believes that he is oppressed and that America is both an intrusive, overtaxed, large government oppressing the masses AND an "anarchist state"! Uh, no. If you want to experience true anarchy, there is one country on earth where that is currently possible: Somalia. It is a failed state with no functioning government and has been ruled by various warlords through guns, fear, and drugged-out child soldiers. If anarchy is so great, why aren't these spoiled middle-class white kids from American suburbia running off to live in the anarchist paradise of Mogadishu or Baidoa? And if you look at real factual data rather than invented propaganda crap from uneducated anti-government radicals, you'll see that the most affluent countries on earth have high taxes and big government (these include the Scandinavian countries, Netherlands, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand). The least affluent countries have little to no government and virtually no taxes. What does the data tell anyone with a rational reasoning ability?
Since this guy has blocked me on Facebook, all bets are off now. If the FBI agent presses me to name the "voluntaryist" / "sovereign citizen" that I know, I will no longer hold off. Not to be spiteful. Just that I have no idea if he might go further off the deep end. I have no idea what pushes someone over the edge from being an anti-government teabagger type towards being a full-on, "let's take matters into our own hands" kind of radical. I've thought for several years now that the guy was mentally ill, at least in the early stages. He told some people at a retreat a few years ago that he "self-medicates." He gets upset if you bring up marijuana usage on Facebook, as he'll deny using it, but in person, he'll share openly with people that he does. I guess he doesn't want a track record online attaching his name to substances, even though he's a passionate defender of it.
From all that I learned about him in the past five years, I think he will make an excellent character in a novel and I have no reservations about doing so. I know of no other person whose views are as radical as his are. My circle of friends tends to be moderate, well traveled, rational, and view the government as a necessity to keep the peace. As one who has experienced being bullied as a kid, I know full well that a complete collapse of our government would not lead to some enlightened self-governing anarchist utopia. Our country would collapse into violence and chaos, with criminal gangs and the mafia coming in to fill the void. At least our government follows the law and respects it (for the most part). Criminal gangs couldn't care less about legal procedures. The gun would be the law.
I'm not sure what caused him to block me on Facebook (he had defriended me sometime last year when I refused to answer his (mis)leading question: "Do you think the government has the right to put a gun to your head and make you pay taxes?" My response was: "I cannot answer your question because of the way you asked it"). I'm pretty sure that it was because he doesn't like his views challenged on Facebook, as he's pushing an agenda on people. He has been banned from so many webboards and has a reputation among various people as an intense extremist. There appears to be no moderation with him. He accuses me of making ad hominem attacks on him, but all I do is bring up the idea that whatever we are most passionate about likely stems from something much closer to us and our life experience. He won't listen, though, so he behaves more like Don Quixote chasing after Windmills. It is my strongest impression that his entire hatred of paying taxes is much more simpler than his view that the government has no right to take what he rightfully earns. His brother has a career as an IRS agent and they didn't get along very well growing up. His older brother doesn't seem to respect him very much (who would?). So, it makes some sense that his hatred of paying taxes could very well be rooted in sibling rivalry and the insult he feels that part of his tax monies pay his brother's salary.
It's also possible that he did not like the fact that I mentioned the Universal Law of Attraction in regards to his amazing ability to attract police officers into his experience. He doesn't believe in the Law of Attraction, as he is purely of the scientific-materialist mindset and an atheist who believes that he is purely logical (even though his rants are illogical since they require him to redefine terms to fit his ideology). I find it fascinating that someone who does not want government intrusion into his life actually seems to have lots of it by way of cops and his various run-ins with them, whereas I want more government in my life (particularly, a government job) and hardly have any contact with government. Your focus determines your reality. As I learn from reading various Law of Attraction books, its not merely having the thought of something that manifests into reality. Its a deep-rooted feeling that is consistent over time. Because its subconscious, a lot of people aren't aware of it and will deny that an undesired outcome might have been subconsciously attracted by them. Based on this idea, it actually does not surprise me that someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the government in negative ways, viewing cops as armed thugs carrying out the government's policies, ends up having his views validated when cops show some aggression at his semantic word games that he loves to play with people.
This anti-government church member probably needs to undergo an intervention of some kind, because I don't think he is able to see just how radical other people think of him. When he was on my Facebook friends list and having discussions with some of my friends whom he does not know, his views alienated so many of my friends, including some conservative ones who share his distrust of big government. More than a few had sent me private emails asking what his deal was. I've never seen anyone else in my friend's list prompt such emails. Along with this, his being asked to leave a few online community webboards tell me that he rubs people the wrong way with his intensity. He strikes me as someone in the grip of ego and unable to recognize it. This makes him a tragic figure, because I don't foresee a good end for him. He appears to have no moderating gene and if no one can force him into an intervention as a way to help him see how he is perceived by others, I believe he will continue to get more radicalized.
It is probably a good thing that he blocked me, though. I got tired of hearing his same old rants on the Church's Facebook page. I've told him numerous times: he really needs to experience a developing country for a few months. If that doesn't moderate his extremist views, nothing will. I don't think he's been out of the U.S. / Canada, so he has no real idea what a truly corrupt government (Burma, Zimbabwe, Sudan) looks like. It is sad whenever someone is unable to have a clear sense of perspective about justice. I hope he will find peace in his mind someday, to know liberation from paranoia, extremism, unchecked ego. Also hope that he will experience the miracle of God someday, as well.
Below is the symbol for "Voluntaryist." I know very little about this group, but from the little I read on the website that Mr. Anti-government Ranter recommended, it sounds radical and dangerous. Our government may not be perfect, but I have seen what a world without government looks like and that is not any kind of place that I care to live in. I don't understand why so many anarchists think that no government = enlightened utopia. The reality based on past history is that no government = hell on earth. The strong will prey on the weak and there is no rule of law to address grievances or to enforce a peace / respect. No thanks. I'll stick with flawed government over no government any day.